"Wellington, Kansas – My Home Town" Wellington by basstbn

Wellington Travel Guide: 4 reviews and 16 photos

Wheat Capitol

There's a lot to be said about growing up in a small Kansas community in the 1950s, most of it positive. Unfortunately for towns like Wellington, there was little reason for a large percentage of us to stay there; few of my classmates (1962) remain in Wellington. Most of us received a wholesome, healthy upbringing in Wellington, and a good education, but found nothing to lure us back to our roots. I, for instance, got on a bus the morning after my high school graduation, and have only visited a few times since.

My mother's family, the Hackneys and Holmes, were some of the earlier settlers in the Wellington, and my great-grandfather O.J. Hackney was the first postmaster, then a city councilman for decades. The nearby village of Hackney was named after my uncle. On what used to be the Hackney homestead, there is a tamarac tree that my great-grandmother Magdalena Hackney brought with her from Mt. Pulaski, Illinois, in 1871. It prospers to this day, a reminder of my family's past.

The years have not been kind to Wellington in some respects. The downtown, at my last viewing in 2002, was pretty much a disgrace - as many empty storefronts as there are active businesses. There's a Wal-Mart on the west edge of town, and has often been the case, that drove many of the local store owners out of business.

Wellington and Sumner County have historically thrived on wheat, for years being the number one producer of hard winter wheat in the Wheat State. Wheat is still the number one cash crop, but it's now difficult for a small family farm to make a profit. Some farmers take a second job; some sell out to the corporations. Many have been wise enough over the years to diversify their crops, even to include cotton now. Because of its proximity to Wichita, Wellington does have a number of small manufacturing and tooling plants which make aircraft components.

One thing that has never changed -- Wellington's fervent love for its high school football team, the Crusaders, annually one of the top teams in its division statewide.

"Downtown" as I remember it...

This is Washington Street, the main street through town, as it appeared in the late 50s(?), pictured on an old post card from my collection. One intersection had a couple of stately, old local banks with no drive-thrus. There were several small grocery stores like Stewart Pitzer's Model Food Market, where my dad cut meat and I stocked shelves, carried out groceries, and occasionally rode along in the delivery van. There was a J.C. Penney's, a Montgomery Wards, an Oklahoma Tire & Supply, and several drugstores with real soda fountains. There were clothing stores, appliance dealers, even a couple of pool halls, in which I never dared set foot, or I would have been "skinned alive." A somewhat eccentric old aunt rented an apartment above one of the stores and took in seamstress work. Times were certainly different.

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  • Last visit to Wellington: May 2002
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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